Administration Revamps Law Center Curriculum to Boost Job Prospects

   Thanks to the recession that began in 2008, the legal market has shrunk considerably, and students from even top law schools struggle to find employment. “I went to law school because I wanted to help people, but I didn’t think that meant helping people choose between medium or large-sized fries,” said Justin Bieber, a 2009 summa cum laude graduate who now works at McDonalds in Chinatown.

    Students, growing weary of insane tuition hikes and dwindling job prospects, have grumbled to the Administration about curriculum reform for years now. “We know that the Law Center isn’t going to cut tuition in half or build its own big law firm and subsidize $160k salaries for its struggling students. However, we demand something – anything! And I think curriculum reform is the right move. We need to be more marketable to employers,” lamented 2L Dennis Rodman.

    Surveys of lawyers show that law firms are beginning to place a big emphasis on real world experience and training when considering law students for full-time positions. In order to increase the job prospects and competitiveness of Law Center students, Dean Treanor and the Administration have agreed to a cataclysmic overhaul of the curriculum.

    First year students will no longer take typical first year classes. Instead, students will be placed in the real world to learn about property law, contracts law, etc. As a contracts project, students will be given $25,000 each to purchase a vehicle, negotiate a price and add-ons, and hopefully read the contract (but who honestly does that anyway?). Students will also be forced to break provisions in their apartment leases and face eviction in order to learn about covenants and damages in property law. To cover constitutional law and civil procedure, first year students will also be tasked with obtaining part-time jobs and quitting with big, public meltdowns, during which allegations of sexual harassment will be thrown around. Student will then be in charge of writing their own letters to the EEOC and filing lawsuits against their old employers. In addition, first years will be equipped with spray paint and told to vandalize national monuments in order to get a real taste of criminal law. First years will also get a real world look at torts when they try to sue one of the homeless men on 2nd St. NW for battery for farting on them. Finally, first years can practice their research and writing skills by writing with pen pals while they are imprisoned.

        Upper level curriculum will also receive a complete overhaul. Clinics, practicums, and externships will be replaced with skills classes. Underwater Basket Weaving 101 is designed to teach students the art of multitasking while underwater. Advanced Napping shows students what they will never be able to do again once they become employed. International Law: London will teach students all about international laws and prison systems by supporting an all-expenses-paid pub crawl in London that will end in a brawl with Chelsea fans (and subsequent arrests). Did you know that most lawsuits result in a settlement? Well, Win A Fight Against Your Parents teaches students the fine art of negotiation and settlements. Safe Sex 101, offered after Bar Review from 1am to 3am, requires students to pair up and learn different techniques for practicing safe sex together. Big law hates unproductive pregnant women, so gear up, ladies! Finally, the writing seminar requirement will be tossed out and replaced with a drinking requirement. Each student must log a minimum of 60 hours of drinking in order to graduate on time. Forms must be completed and signed by bartenders and turned into Dean Treanor by March of 3L year.

      “Sadly, I struck out at OCI in August. I just started mass-mailing thousands upon thousands of law firms in the continental U.S., and I put in my cover letter that I will be taking Advanced Napping and Meme Making 2 this fall. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing!” clamored “I like turtles!” boy, 2L.

    “Once we saw that “I like turtles!” was going to be an advanced meme maker, we couldn’t pass him up. I immediately forwarded his resume up to the senior partners, who gave me a resounding YES! We really need more associates around here who don’t know anything about litigation or transactional work and instead Instagram a lot of pictures of ham sandwiches and know how to make a million unfunny Grumpy Cat memes!” said Mitt Romney, HR director.

     Career Services will be holding workshops soon to help students edit their resumes to include annotations on napping, memes, basket weaving, and arrests. Sign up at www.HappyAprilFoolsDay.com.

 

(Happy April Fool’s! Love, Law Weekly)

Is this the future for externships and externship credits at Georgetown?

The Law Center is no stranger to crusades for experiential learning. In 2010, the SBA introduced a proposal that requested both increased externship opportunities and a 3-credit minimum for externships. This proposal mirrored sentiment among both students and employers that experiential learning provides valuable real world training and helps students stand out amongst other applicants in a shrinking and competitive legal market.

At that time, peer schools provided students with opportunities to devote a vastly higher number of credits to experiential learning through externships. For example, local school George Washington University offered upwards of eight credits, while Stanford offered a whopping total of 12 credits. Despite pushback from some faculty, such as Professor Gary Peller, who argued that increased externship credit hours would “cheapen the value of the degree to award credit solely on the basis of job enhancement goals,” the SBA was successful in increasing the maximum credit hours available from two to three.

This year, the Long Range Planning Committee is examining all aspects of the Law Center, including “critically examining the curriculum in light of the changing legal market. Experiential learning is one of many issues we are considering,” per committee member Shaun Zhang. Every five years, the Law Center undergoes a strategic planning phase that conducts research, analyzes trends among other law schools, and develops the next five-year plan. The current Long Range Planning Committee is in the process of researching and brainstorming ideas for the upcoming 2014-2019 Long Range Plan and intends to take a thorough approach to designing a plan and developing a proposal. According to Shaun Zhang, “the Long Range Planning Committee is examining the advantages and disadvantages of a possible overhaul of the upper level curriculum to include a greater focus on experiential learning, including externships, clinics, practicum, skills courses, and more.”

The current Long Range Planning Committee, a student-faculty committee run independently of the SBA, is comprised of over 20 faculty members and Deans, as well as three law students – Shaun Zhang, Lala Qadir, and Edward Williams. Professor Regan and Professor Aiken chair the committee. At the moment, the committee’s focus is on conducting research and compiling data on various Law Center issues, including experiential learning; no proposal has yet been drafted. According to Zhang, “the data will instead be used in considering the 2014-2019 Long Range Plan. Having a proposal now is not helpful to the process. Any changes to be proposed will likely instead be built into the 2014 plan.” At the moment, the Committee is conducting and analyzing research for its strategic plan. Peer schools such as Washington & Lee have already developed a mandatory experiential learning program. At Washington & Lee, students focus on traditional law school curriculum in their first and second years. However, during the third year, students take skills courses, practicums, and professionalism programs and perform at least 60 hours of legal pro bono. In addition, Stanford recently changed its third year curriculum requirements to permit students to pursue joint degrees, and NYU is in the process of implementing a voluntary experiential learning program for third year students that will include international studies and externships in other cities such as Washington, D.C., and specializations and concentrations.

Students have long complained that three years of law school are unnecessary. Now, tuition hikes, an oversaturated legal market, and law firms grumbling about having to spend funds training students to do things such as write complaints have encouraged students and faculty to consider changes to curriculum that will allow students to meet the challenging legal market head-on.

Following in the footsteps of these other legal institutions, the Committee will consider changing upper level curriculum to provide students with more opportunities for real world learning. The Committee is currently working on drafting a mission statement for the next strategic plan and has planned a weekend meeting in May.